You only have to share the sidewalk

It’s been years since my son was in grade school and rode his bike on the sidewalk a mile to school, but it seems like yesterday. Mostly, he enjoyed the ride with his friends. But once in a while, there were disputes. Sometimes small disputes and sometimes big ones. I didn’t get involved in their altercations. My only advice was that he didn’t have to be friends with the boys who squabbled with him, but they had to share the sidewalk! As adults, we don’t kick and punch people any more. We learn to “get along” with all kinds of people. As children, we were less tolerant and less polished. Still, even today, don’t you sometimes find yourself saying, “I get sick of her” or “He bugs me” or “I wish I wouldn’t have to work with him?” If so, you may have a “toxic” person in your life. In her book “Toxic People,” Lillian Glass says toxic people can rob you of your self-esteem and sometimes actually make you ill. The whole title of her book is “Toxic People: 10 Ways of Dealing with People Who Make Your Life Miserable.” In other words, how to share the sidewalk with the difficult people in your life. As helpful as this book is, I much prefer looking at the other side of the coin. Instead of worrying about the toxic people in your life, why not focus on the terrific people. The people who make you feel good about yourself. I prefer Glass’ companion volume, “Attracting Terrific People: How to Find—And Keep—The People Who Bring Your Life Joy.” Glass is an internationally-known lecturer, communications specialist, and psychologist. In that capacity, she has coached many “stars”—movie stars, sport heroes, news anchors, CEOs of top companies, best-selling authors, and political figures. And in her book “Attracting Terrific People,” she comments that “the common thread that made these individuals’ successes was that these ‘terrific’ people knew how to attract other ‘terrific’ people to their team who, in turn, helped them to the top.” Her “Terrific People Quiz” will help you identify the terrific people in your life with questions like these: “Do you feel excited and energized talking to this person?” “Do you always feel like laughing and smiling whenever you think of him or her?” “Do you feel safe and secure around this person?” “Is the person generous with you?” “Does the person usually say kind things about you and others?” You get the picture! You need and deserve terrific people like this in your life, says Glass. So how can you attract terrific people to you? According to Glass, by being a terrific person yourself. So always remember, although as an adult you have to get along with all kinds of people (both toxic and terrific), you don’t have to let toxic people pull you down. You only have to learn to share the sidewalk. Instead of being overwhelmed by the negative, put all your energy into being a terrific person yourself. And trust that the world is full of terrific people just waiting to enrich your life. Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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